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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 17, 2008 5:06am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Grateful Dead - Fillmore East, September 1970

The only shows we have from September 1970 are the four nights at the Fillmore East. Starting in '69 something like an embryonic taping community was forming among New York deadheads; as a result, a high proportion of the Dead's surviving 1970 shows come from New York. These Fillmore East shows were taped both from the audience (by Jack Toner and Marty Weinberg, independently), and by the Fillmore East stagecrew who patched a reel-to-reel machine into the PA feed under the stage. Unfortunately the Fillmore tape masters seem to have vanished long ago; although the crew captured the shows from February and May 15, they seem to have missed the July shows (which would be known as some of the best shows of the year, if they existed as soundboards), and the surviving September tapes are fragmentary - nothing from the 17th, only an hour each from the 18th & 19th. So it's fortunate that folks were in the audience taping at the same time, giving us the complete shows, although Fillmore East audience tapes usually sound very poor. It seems the tapers had to stay pretty far back, so the band is often distant behind lots of echo and extremely noisy crowds. (The July tapes are, sadly, the worst.)
The shows from this time were generally quite long, billed as "An Evening With the Grateful Dead". Since December '69 the Dead had been including a few acoustic songs in their sets; in April '70 they started a new format where they'd play an acoustic set, then the New Riders would play a set with Garcia on pedal steel, then the Dead would play the electric set. Sometimes in California the Dead would play entirely acoustic shows (for instance on 7/30 and 8/5); by August the setlists included new songs the Dead were recording for American Beauty. These Fillmore shows are some of the last we have with the full acoustic sets; the Dead would drop them by December and not bring them back for another decade.
Since most people only listen to the soundboard portions of these shows, I thought I'd talk a bit about the whole run (not including the New Riders sets) to put them in context.

This night survives in a decent audience tape (with a polite audience) which captures most of the acoustic set and part of the electric set - it's unknown what happened to the rest of the electric set. The Dead start the show with an acoustic Truckin' but quickly stop with their usual cry of "Monitors!" After things are settled, they get down to a very nice acoustic set with several new songs, though it's somewhat hampered for us by the sound quality. Pigpen's piano is barely audible, but sometimes we can hear David Nelson on mandolin, for instance on Rosalie McFall. The highlight of this set is definitely the acoustic Box of Rain debut - it's too bad the sound is so murky that Garcia's pedal-steel just disappears. (Check out the very similar acoustic set on 8/18/70, which fortunately was recorded in good, clear quality for the time.)
In the electric set, we have one of the early Sugar Magnolias, closer to the album version with its fast pace, Garcia on wah-wah and the band singing the "doo-doo" backing vocals at the end. (They would play it each night.) From there they jump into a Dark Star - due to the lack of taped shows, these two Fillmore Stars are the only ones we have between the Capitol Theater shows on 6/24 and 11/5, and they are major events. On this night, they proceed quickly to the verse, and then drop into a long five-minute space with gongs, feedback squeals and strange noises - finally they return to a pretty melody, creating a huge sense of relief as the audience cheers - from there they travel into the Tighten Up jam which they explore for several minutes, getting more cheers at the climax - and then wind up the jam with a lovely quiet, soothing melody. After Dark Star, of course comes St Stephen (much to the crowd's delight) - they had stopped doing the Eleven earlier in the year, so Stephen usually led into Not Fade Away, but not tonight - the band hesitates in confusion as the song ends, so it's time for a drum solo - they decide to go into Good Lovin', which means another drum solo after the verses, and the jam continues to be dominated by over-the-top percussion, pausing for a bass/drums break.

(Note: The Tighten Up in the Dark Star was a very common Latin-style jam theme in 1970; it's often known as a proto-Eyes jam due to the chord resemblance to Eyes. Its first appearance I'm aware of was on 8/30/69, where Weir plays the chords as Garcia's changing a string during Dark Star; it gets a full band performance on 10/25/69. After that they played it steadily for a year, in many Dark Stars (usually following the Feelin' Groovy jam), and after March '70 in most of the Dancing in the Streets; they seem to have dropped it in 1971 except for a surprise appearance on 10/31/71. It's unusual for the Dead to use a jam-theme interchangeably between two different songs like that, but Tighten Up works well in both of them. (It's surprising it took so long for them to play it in Dancing, since it's similar to the usual Dancing two-chord jam pattern - on 12/11/69 for instance, the Dancing is extremely close to a Tighten Up.)
It may be worth a post of its own someday - there used to be a webpage devoted to the Dead's Tighten Ups, but I think it's disappeared. These are the performances I've found so far; I've probably missed a few, but this is the most complete listing available:
10-25-69 Star
11-2-69 Star
12-26-69 Star
1-2-70 Star
3-1-70 Dancing
3-21-70 Dancing
4-3-70 Dancing
4-15-70 Dancing
4-24-70 Star
5-2-70 Dancing
5-6-70 Dancing
5-8-70 Star
5-24-70 Star
6-6-70 Dancing
6-24-70 second Star
7-12-70 Dancing
9-17-70 Star
10-5-70 Dancing
10-24-70 Dancing
10-30-70b Dancing
11-8-70 Dancing
12-17-70 Dancing
10-31-71 Star
(I might add that Deadlists claims there's a Tighten Up in the 2/2/70 Star, but there isn't.)

The audience tape is better than the night before, with the band clear and up-front. We have the brief acoustic set from the soundboard - a very nice Truckin' with piano, and a Black Peter with mandolin - but Garcia suddenly halts things saying, "Hold it. This is insane, man. I'm sorry, but it's just horrible up here, really awful." So they decide to go ahead with the NRPS set instead.
Whatever was the problem, it was worked out by the electric set, for the Dead were definitely in a jamming mood this evening. There is a strong, compelling Other One, heading into a short (three-minute) but hypnotic Cryptical and a sublime, perfect segue into Brokedown Palace. Then we get the last Man's World - one of Pigpen's best covers with a snaky groove and captivating solo - and the rarely-played Till the Morning Comes and Operator. The Dancin' in the Streets is long and excellent, going through several moods. (Note how they carefully avoid the Tighten Up jam, after playing it the night before!) St Stephen is sloppy but rousing, and shifts to Not Fade Away (which they'd play three nights in a row, each one different). As usual, tonight's NFA is great with poetic guitar lines; it includes the Bid You Goodnight jam which formerly resided in Alligator, and a few weeks later would become the coda to Goin' Down the Road. This leads to another Good Lovin' which is better than on the 17th - Weir kicks off the jam with a hot solo, then Garcia lifts it to an intense, fiery level - there's a nice end to the jam as the band take turns trading licks in the return to the verses. The audience demands an encore, but the band just sings them a brief We Bid You Goodnight. (late set only)

This night has the worst-sounding audience tape of the run, distant and plagued by a very rowdy audience that constantly claps through all the songs. I can imagine the plight of the poor taper, surrounded by hollering clappers who just won't stop.... The soundboard on the other hand sounds superb (in fact Bear-like), and it would be nice to clear up the mystery of what happened to the missing sections on the 18th and 19th.
Most of the acoustic set (except the gospel closers) is missing from the audience copy on the Archive; from the setlist it looks more like one of the acoustic sets from May, mostly older tunes. They start the electric set with a standard Morning Dew, then unleash a surprise with Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. A guy exclaims, "I haven't heard this one in years!" - we only have three from 1970, and this is the last Pigpen version. Pigpen gets another song with Easy Wind (which would also soon be dropped), and then it's time for business: the sweetest Dark Star the Dead ever played with Garcia in fits of lyrical ecstasy, an upbeat Feelin' Groovy jam, a fine St Stephen, and an excited, bubbly Not Fade Away in which Garcia plays the Darkness Darkness riff, and then starts a blazing China Cat jam, Weir playing guitar-tag throughout and soloing right alongside him. By the time they get to a raucous Lovelight the crowd is quite carried away and sings along with Pigpen. When he exclaims "Let's fuck!" they explode in cheers (it takes so little to excite deadheads....), and afterwards they keep stomping through the PA's "time-to-leave" Get Together until Lesh comes out to explain that there won't be an encore: "It's been a really long night, and Garcia's got a cramp in his hand, and we're all tired, and Bobby's lost his voice." The delirious audience cries out, "No!" - so Pigpen tells them, "Why don't you guys go home and fuck somebody?" (aud) (sbd) (matrix)

(Note: The China Cat jam was an occasional occurrence in 1970 when the band was in a good mood, and later it would become a regular part of late-'71 NFAs. We can hear a few others in these shows - see how often the Dead tend to string together various common themes: - in the Alligator jam (briefly, China Cat jam>Bid You Goodnight riff) - this jam is very similar to 4/29/71 - in the Not Fade Away (Stephen riff>China Cat jam) - in the Lovelight (a great jam that includes the Stephen riff>Darkness riff>jam>China Cat jam) - in the Midnight Hour (briefly)

The Darkness jam (from the Youngbloods song) was also played at a few more shows in 1970: - in the Lovelight (briefly) (in the fantastic Alligator jam, following the Bid You Goodnight riff) (after Goin Down the Road, goes into the Stephen riff, very low-key)

The sound quality on this night is rather dodgy, especially during the Caution when the levels go haywire (our source comes from a copy, not the master). Although Marty Weinberg must have taped the whole show, unfortunately many of his early tapes were erased or taped-over, so we only have the end of the show from his recording - it would be great to have a matrix of this part, since it's the worst-sounding portion of the soundboard. The audience tape is bass-heavy and has some glitches but mostly sounds clear, and gives us an alternate look at the famous NFA>Caution.
The acoustic set is much-loved due to the soundboard quality and the song selection (all it lacks are the gospel tunes). We have more mandolin playing from Nelson & Grisman, and several new songs including an unusual acoustic Big Railroad Blues - of the many highlights, I would single out To Lay Me Down with its unusual instrumentation.
The electric set is more of an average '70 set than the preceding nights, and it takes them a while to get going. They bring out a couple rarely-played songs like Big Boy Pete, rouse everyone with a strong stretched-out Easy Wind and the best Sugar Magnolia of the run, and soothe them again with a wispy, tentative Attics of My Life. Then they're ready for the big jam with Not Fade Away (one guy exclaims, "They're back to rock and roll!") - Garcia is in a very melodic mood and we have another great, long NFA with its Bid You Goodnight jam, leading to a fine Caution>feedback (one of the last ones) - Pigpen might be better appreciated on the audience tape. They only played show-closing feedback a few times in 1970, and it's pretty cool here; this performance echoes the 2/14/70 Fillmore East show, and is almost a farewell to their '69-style psychedelic blowouts. As the embers settle, they end the run by singing a full-length We Bid You Goodnight. (partial aud) (sbd)

(Note: We only have four full-fledged Cautions from 1970 - Caution had pretty much become separated from Alligator, and was only brought out on rare occasions. (On 1/3/70 they just tease it a little at the end of the Alligator jam before going into a long blast of feedback.) 11/6 and 2/14 are the best Cautions of the year; 2/5 is also unique the way it comes out of the Eleven. There is one more from 3/18/71, before they dropped it for a year - it's mostly laid-back until finally coming to a frenzy at the end, but is notable for Pigpen playing harmonica and singing a rap much like the ones he was doing in Good Lovin'.
2/14/70 Dick's Pick

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Sep 17, 2008 6:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful Dead - Fillmore East, September 1970

Wow- thanks for this outstanding bit of research. 1970 has slowly crept up to challenge 1972 for my favorite year of GD music, and your post is full of excellent background info.

I especially agree that the missing portions of the 18th and 19th standing as one of the most frustrating gaps in the archive. The board portion of the 19th conatins one of the truly great "Dark Stars", and even with the awful audience copy representing much of the show stands as one of the great shows not just of the year, but of all time.

Thanks again for the work that obviously went into this post!

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Poster: jglynn1.2 Date: Sep 19, 2008 3:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful Dead - Fillmore East, September 1970

Thanks for this goldmine Light into Ashes, truly appreciate it!


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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 17, 2008 6:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Grateful Dead - Fillmore East, September 1970

I think you're going to need a chifarobe just to hold the credenzas, though I am not sure they were made for that...

First time I have really been thinking about four shows and what these dates really was a special time.

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Poster: He Live's Date: Sep 17, 2008 7:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

HEY LIA -- thanks for pointing to these shows -- i have listened to the sets from the 19th and 20 quite a bit but have never "gone deep"!

these are epic dark stars from this run. they play fast and loose with nuance, and push the limits of this kind of JAZZROCK IMPROVISATION -- no other band ever sounded good doing freeform jazz meltdowns off the cuff, with only the sketchiest of gameplans....

these guys were flying by the seat of their pants, albeit in an exceptionally professional, intellectual, methodical manner. the sets are crafted around the setpieces. the general flow of ideas is being laid down within the bounds of a familiar outline. THERE WILL BE GONGS! there will be bells and ghost chain rattling noises. the prescribed peeks sighted, summited and there will be a descent into the valley.


Dark Star never truly remained constant, from the moment of its' first performance, other than the basic underlying premise of freedom with an outline and the fraternity of the listeners. but here, in 1970, at these shows, we hear great examples of DARK STAR really starting to grow wings... we can argue about when the GREATEST DARKSTAR was played or which era contained the greatest.... but here they are really injecting a great variety of emotion and playing improvisational, dynamic music with a new level of authority -- pointing towards the near ATONAL, WAY OUT THERE jams they started playing in 1972, reaching greater emotional depths than the HIGH ENERGY versions of 1969, when a lot of attention was still paid to form.

during these renditions we can here the band sounding more at ease with the LOOSENESS and PLIABILITY of the music than during previous years... how else do you explain the freakish animal noises at 6:00 in the 9/17 STAR? as the REBIRTH progresses after this meltdown, they reach a very beautiful space -- a level of communication at a VERY PRIMAL LEVEL has been ascertained -- they had done FEEDBACK FREAKOUTS before but this was another matter -- THIS could have been the APOCOLYPSE NOW soundtrack -- in fact, it is so much more advanced than that. and THIS is a FORMLESS improvisation -- JERRY comes back to FORM at 10:20 but abandons it again shortly..... like he had just glimpsed the edge of space-time, and wanted to go back to try and tip over the other side...... bobby isn't ready yet and makes a pleasant turn towards "tighten up" -- JERRY OBLIGES, He is not pushy.... he is content to have another laugh -- and they play on.............

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 18, 2008 7:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

Always a pleasure with you guys around here (LIA, HLives, Monte)...

9-19 remains my all time fav DS...

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Poster: jglynn1.2 Date: Sep 19, 2008 3:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

Cool, I remember seeing this poster in my uncle's room back when I was really young. I thought he was the coolest Uncle, and he still is - he played guitar and sang some GD tunes at my grandparents (his parents) 70th anniversary 5 or 6 years ago.

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Poster: He Live's Date: Sep 19, 2008 7:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

what's up JG, where ya been?

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Poster: jglynn1.2 Date: Sep 20, 2008 5:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

Holding down the fort in Babylon. I basically hung out on the couch most of the week with some sort of terrible cold. When I logged back on the GD forum had become the Politics forum with interspersed stuff about some old hippie rock & roll band with some guy named Jerry on lead guitar.


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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 20, 2008 7:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

Well, get back on the Abyssinian Beltway and have at it...

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 19, 2008 8:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

He was swallowed by a shark off Cape Cod but got spat out into CLIFF's boat when Elbow was gaffing...maybe?

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Poster: He Live's Date: Sep 19, 2008 10:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

hey WT! how you feelin baby? that marine layer creepin up on ya or what?

re: jimi: i guess i came down more on this side:

click it

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Sep 19, 2008 11:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

wow -thanks for that. what a great way to close out the week.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 20, 2008 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

You ain't kidding. Gotta pull that DVD out.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 20, 2008 7:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

Oh yeah...

Alright, what gives? You keeping track of my comments over the years here to spring this on me just when I needed it?

That movie is my favorite for my favorite band...I know, I know, the DEAD are, BUT those three guys, entirely because of G Baker as IMHO the BEST drummer of 60s style R&R, and Jack Bruce as my fav bass player (Phil's #2), and a passable lead player (Jerry IS #1)...

What an amazing band.

And, that song.

I thought you were wading in rather intelligently now and again with the discourse on this subject. BD and I style ourselves as "aloof with an oppressive touch of cynicism" so we have to hold back or the flood gates might open and we'd probably really piss everyone off around here...

I do enjoy talking about our take on Jerry and the boys vis-a-vis politics though...that was certainly a great deal of their charm.

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Poster: He Live's Date: Sep 20, 2008 8:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

it is a bit more of a non-sequitur i guess.... but i was driving home yesterday and started thinking about Jimi Hendrix and robthewordsmith's comment that he couldn't think of a more talented/amazing electric guitarist or something -- and this is a commonly held idea i think -- but i have never been swayed by this opinion.

while i recognize his true greatness, as amazing a figure as he was, and as talented a guitarist, i've never gained more than a passing satisfaction LISTENING to his music..... and so anyway, i was thinking, who rivals Hendrix on the electric guitar and was his contemporary? and i remembered back when i was 14 and my friends were getting into Hendrix, The DKs, Black Flag and King Crimson, i was totally enthralled by Cream, and the guy that played guitar for that band..... they used to right his name on walls and called him GOD, and i believed it.....

welllll..... until i turned 16, smoked the first weed, went to the first Pink Floyd show, and very soon thereafter, got a copy of LIVE DEAD -- at which point a new obsession was born..... interest has ebbed and swelled over the years -- but shit -- i've been in a DEAD RUT for a few years running now!! maybe it's time for a change?

all the people i know now only listen to METAL.... maybe i will give in and join them... or maybe just listen to KATY PERRY

(and honestly, i listened to that song about 15 times a week or so ago, well, maybe i just REALLY LIKE looking at her -- and then the song was stuck in my head something awful the next day -- i don't think i can ever listen to it again -- but if ANYONE can get me a lifesize KATY POSTER, let me know and i will email you my address)

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 18, 2008 2:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: DARK STAR, Fillmore East, SEP 17, 1970

Good words.
The thing about 1970 Dark Stars, there isn't a bad one, in fact there doesn't even seem to be an 'average' or less-than-great Star, they all astonish.
But aside from that, mid-69 I think saw a turning point in the song's development, when they started opening up a 'space' section after the first verse - this added a whole new dimension. So throughout late '69 and all of '70, the pattern was to go into a long weird space, then re-emerge into a more formal jam, and finish in a 'happy' theme like Feelin' Groovy or Tighten Up, before returning to an often very stretched-out Dark Star riff.
In 1971 the Stars became a bit more tattered, but at the same time their jamming was becoming more dense and dynamic - and after Keith joined they took off into a whole different level. The Stars of '72 generally followed the same rough pattern (except on the nights when they didn't feel like going into a happy theme!), though they'd added some new threads in their playing, in particular the meltdowns, so that the Stars became much more fluid, jazzy & intense.
Whether they reached a higher 'emotional level', that's up to the listener....